Last season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick plucked running back Danny Woodhead from the pile of Jets' discards and turned him into a productive component of the offense. This season, Belichick added two former Jets, defensive lineman Shaun Ellis and safety/special teamer James Ihedigbo.
Obviously, all the Jets' rejects have earned a spot on the Patriots' roster with their skills, but one advantage of sleeping with the ex-enemy is the intelligence they might provide on the inner workings of an AFC East rival. But as they prepare for their first meeting against their old team on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, Ellis and Ihedigbo downplayed their contributions as Jets moles.
"Whatever questions they have for me, I'll answer them," Ellis said. "So far, nobody's really said anything to me. It's just one of those things where the coaches know what they're facing and they know how to attack it and they know the things that gave them problems. They're pretty smart coaches. They understand gameplans well. For me, it's going out and executing and playing with my teammates to help us get a win."
The way Ihedigbo sees it, he could offer some pointers on what the Jets are trying to do on offense, but he expects to see some new wrinkles from his old team. "You go against an offense enough in practice, and you learn what they want to do and the guys they want to get the ball to," Ihedigbo said. "But they're going to have a whole gameplan ready for us. Rex [head coach ryan] and the Jets always have something prepared, especially for the Patriots. We have to prepare for what they've done in the past and showed us offensively. They do a lot of things. They can be a handful."
Ultimately, what does anyone think Ellis and Ihedigbo can tell a five-time
Super Bowl champ (counting two titles as a Giants assistant) like Belichick that he doesn't already know from his own study of the Jets? Belichick didn't discount it entirely, but he did minimize the impact.
"Can somebody tell you something?" Belichick asked. "Yeah. But that kind of information is maybe 1 percent or 2 percent at most of the gameplan. That is vastly overrated."